Fudgy Flourless Cookies

The Ivory Hut's Fudgy Flourless Cookies

Hospitality is a strange word.

Strange, at least, for someone like me who has spent a good deal of her childhood in and out of hospitals. Back then, I always thought it seemed strange to associate such an admirable quality with a place that meant sharp needles, stark walls, and cold rooms with a distinct antiseptic smell. Hospitals usually shooed away visitors, sometimes discouraging them from staying too long by rationing the number of extra chairs in a room. Why then, wondered my eight-year-old brain, does “hospitality” mean the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers?

English can be such a curious language sometimes. Or so thinks this non-native English speaker.

I’ve been sickly most of my life, but the past years have been a rare period of vigor and health. I attribute part of this newfound heartiness to an altered diet. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of what I eat, and just as importantly, what I don’t eat. And the biggest component of that latter group is gluten, which I’ve confirmed—with great reluctance and sorrow (rending of garments and gnashing of teeth may have been involved)—to be the cause of many of my former “mysterious” ailments.

So what does that have to do with hospitality? See, I have this friend. Her name is Savannah. She’s a new friend who almost immediately felt like an old friend. And when Savannah learned I had a problem with gluten, she took it upon herself to make sure I would always have something to eat whenever there was a gathering at their house. She’d even ask her mom to modify the menu if she felt there weren’t enough gluten-free items in the spread.

And then she’d make these cookies.

The Ivory Hut's Fudgy Flourless Cookies

When I first tried them, I immediately asked her what flour substitute she used. Most gluten-free cookies I’ve had were acceptable, but you could tell they were … different. These cookies? They’re chewy and dense, but not heavy in any way. In fact, they’re almost fluffy. And the crumb? Just like regular cookies made with flour. So I was intrigued, to say the least. What was her secret? What genius combination of gluten-free flours or grains did she use?

None, she said. No coconut flour, no almond flour, no oat flour, no something-flour. Not peanut butter, no almond butter. No whipped egg whites, either—the whole batch only calls for 2 whole eggs. Was it some kind of modernist ingredient that called for powders synthesized in a lab? Would I need a sous vide machine? Was liquid nitrogen somehow involved? (Admittedly, part of me hoped it was, so I’d have a reason to play with it.) Nope. Just regular, all-natural pantry ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa powder, baking soda, and chocolate chips.

The Ivory Hut's Fudgy Flourless Cookies

Savannah did more than just share the recipe with me: she came over to my house and showed me how to make them. The ingredient list reveals the secret to these cookies: cocoa powder replaces ALL of the flour you would normally use in a cookie recipe. That’s not a typo in the recipe; you really use an entire cup of cocoa powder. Which explains the deep, rich chocolate flavor in every bite.

The Ivory Hut's Fudgy Flourless Cookies

When we finally baked off the final batch of cookies, Savannah sighed and said, “Oh no. Now you won’t need me to make you gluten-free cookies anymore.” I smiled and assured her I will always want her to make cookies for me. After all, as amazing as they are, they’re just cookies. No matter how incredible and cocoa-packed they may be, their greatest value will still be in reminding me how grateful Tom and I should be to have such warm and hospitable friends who feed us well and readily welcome us into their family, their home, and their community.


Fudgy Flourless Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 rounded teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup white chocolate chips or chunks, or to taste (optional)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks, or to taste (optional)
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, or to taste (optional)

In a bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and both sugars. Make sure sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is soft, not gritty. Add eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat until smooth, light and fluffy.

Slowly add cocoa mixture, adding in small increments to avoid creating a dust cloud of chocolate. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a cloud of chocolate.) Keep mixing, scraping down the sides of the bowl intermittently, until all dry ingredients have been added and cookie batter is smooth. Remember: there is no gluten in this recipe, so there’s no danger of overheating it and ending up with tough cookies.

Gently mix in chocolate chips or chunks and nuts, if using. Cover batter and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

The Ivory Hut's Fudgy Flourless Cookies

Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350ºF and position rack in the center of the oven. Prepare a baking sheet and line with parchment or a silicone mat.

When oven temperature reaches 350ºF, take cookie batter out of the refrigerator. Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, portion out cookies, about 12 to a sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Return remaining batter to the refrigerator.

Bake cookies 10 minutes, then remove from oven. Leave cookies on the sheet for a minute before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies will be very soft, but will set as they cool. Continue baking remaining cookies.

Store in an airtight container. Cookies remain soft and chewy for days.


  1. If the bottoms of the cookies appear to cook too quickly, move the oven rack one notch higher.
  2. You can add chopped walnuts to the batter if desired.
  3. The cocoa powder and chocolate pieces are the main stars of this cookie. Use the best quality ingredients if possible.


The Ivory Hut's Fudgy Flourless Cookies

Browned Butter Banana Streusel Cake (Gluten-free!)

ivoryhut Gluten-free Banana Streusel Cake

Banana cake was one of the very first things I ever attempted to bake. I still remember clearly the day. It was sometime in the mid-90s, when my hair was much longer and I still had delusions dreams of being some kind of Melissa Etheridge rock musician. I was at our neighbor’s condo, watching our friend make banana cake without a recipe, simply mixing ingredients together until the consistency looked right to him. I was so amazed you’d think I was watching someone split an atom.

As much as I enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, I never imagined baking would ever figure in my repertoire. I stayed clear of it because I thought it required a level of precision I just wasn’t capable of, and a few early disasters convinced me I was better off leaving it to the experts. Truth be told, I was more comfortable assisting with circumcision. (You’ll be glad to know that, unlike baking, there were no early disasters in my brief medical career.)

Friday Special Pizza

ivoryhut Friday Special pizza

Growing up in the Philippines, we didn’t have a wealth of choices of pizza places. We had a favorite restaurant called The Italian Village, and we’d get to our table, order our food, grab a few breadsticks, then my brothers and I would rush to stand in front of a giant glass pane in front of their kitchen, watching the pizza guys fling the dough in the air. Forget about crayons and connecting the dots. The only thing that could pry us away from that sight was the wafting scent of our pizza as it arrived.

Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata)

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

Lately I’ve been on a Filipino food kick. Perhaps it’s because I’d grown weary of this overstaying winter (though today was beautiful and warm). Or perhaps because some of the best comfort food is the food you grew up eating. The food of my home makes me think of my grandmother, the sound of a tropical breeze rustling coconut leaves, and Sunday afternoons playing in the sun with my cousins.

(Then I remember the time we played hide-and-go-seek outside in the middle of the night and no one came to look for me for half an hour. That part? Not so comforting.)

Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata in Filipino) is one of my favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. It’s not truly vegetarian, though you can easily make it so. Traditionally, we flavor this dish with tiny shrimp and ground or diced pork. I had neither, so this is my simple, adapted version. In place of shrimp, I used fish sauce; for the ground pork, I used my home-cured bacon.

Home-cured Bacon

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

Ever since Michael Ruhlman wrote about home-cured bacon, I’d been wanting to take a crack at it. As a dutiful Filipino, I’m no stranger to pork belly. We slice it thick and grill it, cut it into large cubes and make adobo or sinigang (a tamarind-flavored soup, the Filipino version of tom yum), or we dice it up and serve it with fried tofu cubes and a soy-vinegar-garlic dipping sauce.

Filipinos love pork. Don’t even get me started on sisig, which takes the pork love to a whole different level.

about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.